The Bearcats are still dealing with the death of teammate Ben Flick but rallying together as they hope the first game back this weekend against South Florida can help everyone start to move on. 

CINCINNATI -- The scene inside a college football locker room - specifically the Cincinnati Bearcats football locker room - teeters more toward Animal House than workplace. 

A collection of 100-plus teenagers and 20-somethings turn daily duty into a festival of fun. Jokes and  games, shouting and posturing, never a dull moment when the doors on the second floor of the Linder Center fly open. 

That is, until a week and a half ago. One day after the news broke freshman offensive lineman Ben Flick lost his life in a car accident, the players returned to the locker room that Sunday. 

"I will always remember that," senior lineman Austen Bujnoch said. "It was the most eerie thing." 

Walking through the doors and toward his locker, Bujnoch and his teammates went through the normal routine.

Dress, lift, practice, shower. 

Only, nobody spoke. Silence. Grief replaced gags. Shock replaced shouts. 

"It was the first time we've ever heard that locker room completely silent," Brendon Kay said. "It was a weird feeling." 

Unsure how to act or what to say, this group of optimistic young kids were forced to grow up in an instant and, thankfully for them, do so together. 

"That was the closest death I've ever had, so it was kind of hard to deal with," Bujnoch said. "We never forget, but we have to move on." 

They do so in gameplanning for South Florida. Conference season stands in clear focus on the horizon. Assessing how to slow an athletic defensive line and spark an offense stagnant two weeks ago against Miami fills a portion of the space previously held by sadness for a fallen teammate. 

On the field, the game will be changing for the Bearcats. Tommy Tuberville plans alterations to a roster he spent the non-conference season evaluating. Learning season ended in Oxford. The rotations are trimmed and those who haven't produced will spend time watching from the sidelines with every conference victory a valuable commodity and stepping stone toward the BCS goal. 

With life and the season moving on, there's no time for the Bearcats to wallow. Tuberville spent much time lately in the Intensive Care Unit and around hospitals. He quickly found out choosing coaching was a blessing for him because handling the daily view around those rooms requires a special type of person. Along the way, he's learned about helping kids deal with death while holding on to another, as Mark Barr is still in critical condition from the accident. 

The key, Tuberville gathered, involves returning to typical. Hopping on a plane and strapping on the road jersey again will help tremendously. 

"I think getting back playing and competing will help," Tuberville said. "It's a different situation than I've ever been in; I have not known how to handle it. There is no right or wrong way, it's just that you hear the old adage, time heals all. So we'll just have to keep working at it and try to keep them as focused as we can, and remind them that this is a more serious situation than just a football game, what's going on over at that hospital." 

Flick's locker will always be there and the No. 77 decal will always grace the Bearcats helmet during a season they've dedicated to him. 

Yet, with each play, each plan, each practice, the pendulum swings closer to normalcy, though it may never truly return to the middle. 

Each time the locker room door swings open, the decibel level rises a little more. 
"That's the best coming in seeing your brothers every day, crack some jokes, get back in the swing of things," Bujnoch said. "Seeing Ben's locker always will affect me but he'd want us to have fun, he'd want us to go out there and win. He wouldn't want us worrying about him - so (winning and having fun) is what we are going to do."  

I want to hear from you! Send me your comments, suggestions or questions to or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. 

Helton Leads Talented Tights to Tampa

| No TrackBacks

First-year tight ends coach Tyson Helton leads a talented group of players that will be looking to find the endzone at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Saturday night.

Senior Blake Annen leads the group, followed by freshman DJ Dowdy.
  In the future, Travis Johnson (who is from Tampa's Jesuit High School) and Tyler Cogswell will be looking for passes along with junior Josh Russ.

I tracked down Coach Helton in the football office at the Lindner Center and spoke to him about his players, the USF game and his brother, Clay.

For those that don't know, Clay Helton is Southern Cal's offensive coordinator and will call plays now with the dismissal of Lane Kiffin. Clay and Tyson's father, Kim Helton is a coaching veteran who actually coached in the Tampa Bay area years go with the Buccaneers.

UC fans may remember him more from his days as head coach of the University of Houston from the old Conference USA/Rick Minter days.

Here's Tyson who will likely make a fine head coach someday himself:

The trying week for the Bearcats football team and university family teaches one life's hardest, unforgettable lessons.

CINCINNATI -- The years spent at college are designed to prepare young adults for the real world. Most of those come in the form of economics lessons or historical context, language advancement or public speaking. 

They're meant to set up young adults to succeed in the real world. Often, the only preparation to succeed stems from heartbreak. 

In the case of college football players, their college existence spans beyond that of a traditional student. Their brotherhood expands into the hundreds across a path paved in blood, sweat and grass stains. Few bonds replicate that of college football team. 

Only the 110 players who fill that locker room every day and run side by side through the misery of post-practice gassers in the heat of Higher Ground understand the misery and magnificence of their unique college experience. 

Just as understanding supply and demand or the civil rights movement teaches students lessons to prepare them for life, so do the events of this past weekend and passing of Ben Flick. 

Life doesn't always teach lessons with hugs and predictability. Those that most impact young lives, comes with pain, shock and, in this tragic case, death. 

Bonds forged by these players mean so much because how quickly they can be broken. These players know that now as they grieve for their fallen brother. 

In a campus bubble where the goal stands to prepare student-athletes for life, this weekend did more than any game, than any class. 

"It's something that will be in the back of these guys minds for a long time because it happened and they were all friends and teammates," Tommy Tuberville said. "It's life. It's something unfortunately you don't want to deal with or have to deal but they've dealt with it." 

Sons lose fathers, mothers lose daughters and we all will eventually see someone close to us pass. If you're lucky, you've skirted that inevitability to this point. 

For these players, they'll learn about continuing on through the pain, about remembering the good times, about pulling loved ones tight and relaying what they mean to them. 

They'll learn about moving forward a stronger, caring person. 

The Bearcats could have played this weekend had a bye not been placed on the schedule. The challenge would have been raised. To ask young kids to turn around and focus would be tough, but as it would be for any adults, which everyone in black, white and red with a FLICK#77 helmet sticker learns about at every practice, together.  

"It's been terrible, it's tough, it's a tragedy," Tuberville said. "Here one day gone the next. Something I've been through and us older folks have been through quite a bit but when you take these young guys to go through something like this it's different. I think they've handled it fairly well but you know they wouldn't handle it as well as most people would that's been through it. It's kind of like losing a brother." 

This situation is without doubt tragic and cruel, but as with every morning when the sun rises, comes a lesson that forms everyone moving forward. This team will be no different. They'll learn to move on, they'll learn how deal with unexpected twists and turns of life. 

All part of growing up, where some days are easier than others. 

"These are kids, they are not adults that have to look at this," Tuberville said. "Some have probably never been to a funeral like yesterday. They got their eyes opened. Lot of guys have never been to intensive care unit, like gone to this week and walked in and see what they see. But it's reality. I tell them, this is life. This is reality. This is what you'll deal with the rest of your life."

I want to hear from you! Shoot me any comments, questions or remembrances of Ben Flick to or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. 

Many would view Saturday's 14-0 win as an ugly effort, but none of those were ringing the Victory Bell on Saturday at Yager Stadium. 

OXFORD, Ohio -- In the Xbox era of college football, beauty comes defined by different standards. Wild shootouts and broken passing records draw double takes and smiles from the boys. 

Physicality and frustrated offensive coordinators are demoted to a back room, sent out to the scrap heap along with Nintendo, Reebok pumps and other former objects of affection.

What once would be considered the definition of football in the Sunday newspaper today draws Twitter trolls. 

Not for Tommy Tuberville. Wiping his hand through graying hair to symbolize the number of 14-0 stress sessions he's witnessed during a 17-year coaching career, he smiles about a game that never made him feel uncomfortable even though his 23-point favorite Bearcats failed to find a lead as minutes ran off the clock in the final quarter. 

"A lot of people say that wasn't very pretty, but it was for me," Tuberville said. "Running the ball, playing defense and winning the game is always pretty to me."

To those who treasure broken noses and gnarly bruises Saturday was watching Picasso paint. 

The Bearcats allowed one yard of net offense in the second half. One. Uno. 

They held Miami to 0 for 11 on third downs and empty on three fourth-down attempts.

Of 45 RedHawks plays, the same went for negative yards (11) as went for more than five. 

Eight players owned piece of a tackle for loss. 

In the fourth quarter, Miami ran eight plays for minus-11 yards with one turnover and one punt. 

Tuberville, while reading postgame stats, spotted 29 and 7 listed next to each other on the box score and remarked how well the defense shut them down only allowing 29 rushing yards. Only, the numbers read opposite. UC held Miami to seven yards on 29 rushes. That's 0.24 yards per rush for those searching for a calculator.

Ugly? Maybe to those flipping to ESPN3. And certainly to fans whiting out Yager Stadium. But not for anyone found ringing the Victory Bell on the way to the team bus in Oxford. 

"That was one of the best wins I've ever had here," said defensive tackle Jordan Stepp, who racked up two sacks and saw UC rack up nine straight scoreless quarters in this stadium. "Here's why. Winning is hard to do, but we've had a lot of success the five years I've been here. Wins like that show the younger guys not to take it for granted. Those are the best wins. Wins you have to fight for are the ones  - I got goosebumps right now - those are the ones you feel. They are the ones that mean everything." 

They mean even more to a team seeking an identity entering conference play for the first time under Tuberville. Mark Dantonio's teams were defined by physicality. Brian Kelly's by electric offense. Butch Jones' by passion. What will be the calling card of Tuberville when UC walks into Raymond James Stadium in two weeks. 

On Saturday, the case was made for relentless defense. 

Defensive end Silverberry Mouhon consistently collapsed the edge along with Terrell Hartsfield and other rotating ends. It allowed UC's quick linebackers to blow up any of the few gaps opened by the Miami offense. 

To be sure, the RedHawks won't be mistaken for Green Bay Packers anytime soon. And references of a coach on the hot seat echoed through the stadium as beleaguered Miami fans slogged to their cars. But this was as much about the Bearcats defense as Miami offense. 

UC adapted to mistakes made on third downs and with quarterbacks sprinting out of the pocket at Illinois to become a strength against Miami. 

Brendon Kay didn't play well. The kicking game left six points on the board. They became the first NCAA game to go scoreless through three quarters since 2007. 

Yet, even amid frustration on the visitor sideline, the day never felt uncomfortable. 

That's the beauty of it. 

"We were on fire the second half," Stepp said. "Football is a game of momentum and that carried over to the offense. There's been a lot of times in my career here we've needed a spark lit under our butts from the offense. It's a beautiful thing in a win like that when you have to earn every inch, every yard, every down, every point. It's great." 

I want to hear from you! Shoot me any comments, questions or observations about UC football to or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.

Booj on 'The Bell'

| No TrackBacks

Written by Scott Springer

Austen Jack Bujnoch has a five-year history with the Victory Bell and even more when you factor his brother Digger's tenure as a UC Bearcat.

After Digger had played his last snap here in 2007, Austen was the top lineman in the Greater Catholic League-South for Elder in 2008.
  The Panthers were the Division I Ohio runners-up that year.

He came to UC in 2009 under Brian Kelly and redshirted, so his time on the field didn't actually start until after the Bearcats played Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl.

However, for our purposes, we count 2009 as the "Austen era" which makes him 4-0 in Victory Bell games against Miami going into Saturday's trip to Oxford.

With Austen Bujnoch wearing a C-Paw logo, the Bearcats have outscored Miami 161-30.

Yeah, it's not near as competitive as it was.

I can recall (as I mentioned to Coach Tuberville) the Ben Roethlisberger years where Gino Guidugli, as good as he was, couldn't lead UC over Big Ben.

As the stats show, UC has won the last seven.
  For a better appreciation of that, you probably need to know that in 16 games from 1990-2005, Miami won 10 and tied one with UC winning only five.

As a matter of fact, Austen Bujnoch (as he describes in the video) witnessed the last Miami win in this series in 2005 when Digger was on an extremely young squad that Mark Dantonio had recruited.
  Many of those players had great careers and some are pros, but they took it on the chin that night, 44-16.

(For your extra trivial nugget, the TV sideline reporter that night was Heather Mitts. I remember such things.)

Austen was one of several Bearcats slated to speak to the team on the history and importance of the rivalry.
  Before he addressed the team, I caught up to him outside of the fabled Bob Goin team room.

Occasionally you find a great story idea and show up to see apparently you aren't the only insightful genius to spot the oasis in the desert. Typically, when this happens, I'll just write the story anyway and pretend no other outlet had it. 

That happened this week. Only, when the other outlet is the Enquirer and Bill Koch is on the case, competing doesn't make much sense. Certainly not in this space -- as much as I would love to have fully broken out McKay's vibrant personality.  The goal here is for the stories of the talented student-athletes to make their way to your eyes. Rather than punt the story and find something else, this one was too good to leave alone. 

I'd love for you to come here and for the most part I always trot out unique pieces. That's not always possible. 

Sometimes, however, as in this case there is even more to the story than the original story. This is where I come in. So, I'm going to piggyback on Bill's piece on McKay with even more information about this receiver who followed his heart and not his draft profile in maneuvering through his college career. Why say the same thing twice when I can add to the primary message? We the media can co-exist harmoniously, right? (Cue soft Rinaldi piano) 

First off, read Bill's story here. It's excellent. And what I'm about to tell you won't make much sense unless you do. 

Second, would like to offer what most struck me about the gist of Bill's tome and McKay's journey. 

--- How many times do we see the story about the selfish college athlete, the ugliness of the NCAA plus the despicable coaches and administration supposedly attempting to impede their development? Blocked transfers, criminal behavior, suspensions, connections to agents, money, money, money. It dominates every offseason (Manziel anyone?) and consistently sullies the view of college athletics. 

Yet, here were four parties -- McKay, Arkansas, NCAA, UC -- able to work together and realize the true intent and necessity in the life of a student-athlete. Bert Bielema and the Razorbacks (where McKay was their top returning receiver) happily granted McKay his full release. 

"He didn't want me to leave, he told me that, but some things are bigger than other things," McKay said of Bielema. "He helped me tremendously. I still appreciate him to this day and thank him for all he did for me." 

And here's the NCAA, which allowed him to not have to sit out a year, because they realized this was about a 20-year-old kid trying to put family first. The NCAA takes a number of shots nationally -- many deserved -- but in this case they very much did the correct thing allowing McKay to play and give memories like Saturday at Nippert Stadium to this grandson and his "granny."

Thank you, common sense and values, for prevailing in a landscape where they rarely do. 

--- Tommy Tuberville admitted as much when talking about the acquisition of McKay, who he refers to as a "next-level" talent, the Bearcats got lucky with this one. Tuberville will shoot you straight. He speaks how he honestly sees it, good, bad or indifferent. In the nine months since we've known him, I've never heard him reference the NFL with any of this current players. Until now. That's how good McKay is and in particular, how good he can be. 

McKay admits when he knew he needed to leave Arkansas to be closer to his grandmother, he had a few schools to choose from. Any within a quick drive of Louisville. Credit UC for taking advantage of their fortunate geography. 

"I didn't know where I was going to be landing, Louisville, Cincinnati, I didn't know where. I just kind of went with the flow. It was awesome how I ran into the coaches, they knew about me and when they seen the film and when we met in person it came to blank. When you know good people and you see good people who are going to help you out for your best interest, it's kind of easy."

--- I'm just going to rerun this quote from McKay, who I repeat, put his personal NFL aspirations and an opportunity to be the top receiver as a sophomore on an SEC team on the back burner to be with his 57-year-old grandmother. 

This, folks, is a good kid. 

"When you grow up with your grandmother, you are kind of protective of her. You grow up with her as a mom and a dad and her age is something that plays a big role. I'm a 'grandmother's boy,' I'm not a 'mama's boy.' I love her with all my heart, man. I'm so happy she gets to come to my home games and see me play."

Obviously, the first person McKay looked to spot during Saturday's game when he caught his first UC touchdown was his grandmother. Here's his version of that moment. 

"I seen her, I looked in the stands and made eye contact. It was a great feeling." 

--- As for what will make McKay a scary player for the next level, he needs to put on weight. His frame is already intimidating at 6-foot-6, but at 195 pounds he doesn't threaten push corners around at the line of scrimmage. Tuberville and the strength staff plan to change that. 

"They want me to get as big as I can stand," McKay said. "Right now I lift before practice and after practice. It's really helping me with getting stronger and being able to dominate  my opponent. It's getting easier and easier the more I work."

The current plan is to put about 20 more pounds of muscle on his body by next year. How many 6-6, 215 pound former basketball players with soft hands do you know? I bet most of them have a nice NFL contract. 

--- And oh yeah, in case you didn't know, McKay very easily could've have been starring next door at Fifth Third Arena. Mick Cronin and UC actually were among the teams to offer him a scholarship offer coming out of high school in Louisville. 

"I come back to thinking about basketball a lot, but those were my older days I kind of left that behind me," he said. "It was something about playing football and I picked that as my first sport. Basketball, I could have played on at Arkansas I just chose to seek my football chances." 

Hard to believe granny didn't try to weigh in on pushing him to the safer sport of basketball over football. 

"Granny didn't care about what sport I was playing," McKay said. "Only thing granny cared about was getting a degree." 

Smart woman. 

I want to hear from you! Have any comments, questions or suggestions shoot me an email to or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. 

Time to take a look back at the weekend around UC football, the AAC conference and anything else affecting Bearcats fans and determine what we learned. So what did we learn as the Bearcats beat Northwestern State, 66-9. 

Let's start learning ...

1) We learned the Brendon Kay deep ball still looks effective. I wrote about it. So I won't anymore. Read this

2) We learned the perfect passer rating in college football is 1261.6. That would be if you completed every pass thrown for 99 yards. Why did we learn this, because Brendon Kay posted one of the best passer ratings in school history at 326. The number is hard to track down and not available in team files, but at the online stats that do track it back to 2007 nothing came close. 

Kay earned a spot on The American weekly Honor Roll. 

Granted, it comes against FCS Northwestern State, but was nice for Kay to get back into game rhythm.

"The biggest thing is just the rhythm. Going through pregame and working out all that stuff, just going out there and doing it," Kay said. "Confidence-wise and everything like that I'm fine, I've done it a couple times. to get in a game rhythm so much different than practice." 

 3) We learned Trenier Orr will miss 7-8 more weeks. Tommy Tuberville told us the starting cornerback had surgery and now a search is on for depth in the secondary. In fact, Tuberville and his staff are converting JuCo running back Rod Moore to corner. He's played the position before and will do so again as a backup. For now, we saw Howard Wilder, Zack Edwards and Leviticus Payne out there among other auditioning. Probably will see more of that before the rotation settles more entering conference play. 

4) We learned the battle is heating up between Hosey Williams and Tion Green. Williams earned the majority of the backup snaps behind RDAIV the first two weeks, but Tuberville opened up opportunities for Green against the Demons and he played well. He ran 11 times for 66 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Williams broke out for 11 rushes for 120 yards and two scores. The majority of those yards came on one 77-yard run up the middle. That helped the average on a day when every UC running back averaged at least 4.5 yards per carry. 

5) We learned to never question the handing off skills of Bennie Coney. The new backup quarterback entered to play with the first team in the second quarter. He flawlessly handed off eight consecutive times in leading a touchdown drive. His steps toward the running back were efficient, his extension brilliant. 

I kid, of course, but once Tuberville allowed Coney to let it fly the redshirt freshman looked equally as impressive. He didn't miss a pass, connecting on all five passes, the final the most eye-opening by far. 

He tossed a 44-yard dart down the far sideline to Shakim Alonzo for a touchdown to close out the scoring. Coney showed off the arm that earned him scholarship offers by Michigan, Virginia Tech and Arkansas, among others. I wrote about Coney and his potential at the conclusion of his fantastic spring. He'll likely see more time as the year goes ona and vertainly if any more games get out of hand Tuberville would love to give him more snaps. 

6) We learned a bit about the potential of transfer Mekale McKay. The sophomore transfer from Arkansas did a nice job positioning himself on a 40-yard touchdown reception from Kay. Tuberville has searched for a big body receiver, particularly as Alex Chisum rehabs from injury, and knows the rare size and skill McKay brings to the table. 

He caught 21 passes for 317 yards last year for Arkansas. The Bearcats are currently trying to help the 6-foot-6, 195-pound put on weight during the season to push around smaller DBs. 

"He's going to be a star receiver," Tuberville said. "He doesn't know how talented he is. We want to get him stronger. ... He's not aggressive enough. We are doing a lot of things with him in practice to try and get the ball to him more. We had a few more things planned tonight but decided to hold up on them until next week because the score got out of hand too quick. He's an intimidating factor on a corner that tries to line up on him."

7) We learned the AAC is beginning to divide itself. A clear differentiation between the top and the bottom exists after this weekend. The biggest mover was UCF winning its third in a row, this time going into Happy Valley to take out Penn State. One of the biggest wins in school history and their QB Blake Bortles is being viewed as a "top-flight QB" in this story. 

UC does not play UCF this year. 

Again, Louisville established its dominance and ranking with an easy win at rival Kentucky. 

The rest of the conference would prefer to run and hide after this weekend's results. Previously winless Florida Atlanta blew out USF, 28-10. Horribly disappointing start to the Willie Taggart era in Tampa. Middle Tennessee State topped Memphis, 17-15. UConn followed their loss to Towson losing to Maryland at home by 11. And Fordham ended up beating Temple in Philly, 30-29. 

Right now, it looks like UC (2-1), Rutgers (2-1), Louisville (3-0) and UCF (3-0) -- then everyone else in the conference outlook. 

8) We learned fans are still on board. The 30,284 made for a fantastic crowd on a gorgeous night in Clifton. To pull in 30k+ for a game against a no-name opponent like Northwestern State should be viewed as a big win going forward. Next home game will be Oct. 11 against Temple. 

9) We learned the road appears clearly paved to 7-1. None of the next five opponents have a win yet on the year, totaling 0-12. 

Opponent (Record)
@Miami (0-2)
@USF (0-3)
Temple (0-3)
UConn (0-2)
@Memphis (0-2)

I want to hear from you! Shoot any comments, questions or tell me what you learned about UC football by sending an email to or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. 

Brendon Kay connected on four passes that traveled at least 35 yards in the air Saturday night and reminded everyone how explosive the offense can be on his watch. 

CINCINNATI -- On this night, when if not for the a pitchfork splitting the state of Louisiana on the Demons logo, nobody would know where Northwestern State is located, the final score would matter little. 

What would move the needle on Tommy Tuberville's barometer of the UC football program would be players proving capable of making plays that win conference games, conference championships. 

In the case of Saturday night's 66-9 victory, the proving should be classified more as a reminder. 

Brendon Kay - and more precisely the accurate deep ball stemming from his right arm - brings a weapon all teams in the American must prepare for. 

Coverage didn't always blanket downfield receivers. And for that matter, pressure rarely fell around the senior's feet. Yet, from the moment Kay planted on his drop and floated his soft spiral no execution appeared more impressive or aesthetic. 

"It's not really anything I think about before the play," Kay said. "It's just go out there and do it." 

Utilizing his natural instincts, Kay completed four passes that hung longer than 35 yards in the air and all landed perfectly in the hands of the intended target. And in stride, for good measure. 

The bombs arrive in different shapes and sizes. Finding the time and place for all makes the difference. 

"It's just a feel for the game," Kay said. "Been doing it my whole life. Certain receivers I put more air under it and let them run to it. If it's pretty open you want to put it on him. Just let him make the catch and run with it." 

The first Saturday, an intent strike to tight end Blake Annen breaking open between the seams for an eventual 49-yard gain arrived on him like a pregame parachuter careening around the scoreboard. 

The second came hung in front of transfer Mekale McKay long enough for him to hold off the defender draped behind him on a broken play for a contested catch. 

The last two were the types of throws that make writers like myself consult the thesaurus for adjectives. No other choice, really, when a pass holds high in the air, softly spiraling against the backdrop of a black-clad upper deck at Nippert then landing in the ideal spot for Max Morrison to accept without slowing. 

Pick which one you prefer: Exquisite, stunning, angelic, pulchritudinous. (For the record have no idea what pulchritudinous means, but sure rolls off the tongue). 

The first bomb to Morrison covered 46 yards to set up an Anthony McClung spinning touchdown. 

"I felt the DB right there on my hip and Brendon put the ball exactly where it needed to be," Morrison said. "He was right there with me when I caught it. If it weren't for the great ball from Brendon it might not have turned out the way it did."

The second came as Morrison broke open down the sideline for 41 yards and an easy touchdown to close out a spectacular night. 

"Nothing was there but the ball and me," Morrison continued. 

Kay finished 12 of 14 for 277 yards while tying a career high with four touchdowns. His final passer rating of 346.2 ranked better than any quarterback in a UC game since the mid-2000s renaissance. It wasn't close. 

How Kay can change the game for the Bearcats entering conference play in three weeks will be by stretching the defense with his accuracy deep. Keeping the safeties out of the box allows more one-on-one matchups up front to keep Ralph David Abernathy IV and company in space. 

That, according to Tuberville, serves as the key in the chain reaction to moving the ball consistently in this type of attack. From there forward, his next level in throwing the deep ball will be knowing when not to throw. There Tuberville came away particularly impressed in his play. 

"He didn't throw the ball up for grabs," Tuberville said. "There was a couple of times he could have chucked it down the field but he tucked it and ran it. He's learning. He's got a lot more to learn about playing quarterback in this type of offense, a pro-style offense, where your running game has to be No. 1 and passing game work off of that." 

As for if Kay believes the deep ball is his primary weapon, he wouldn't go so far. 

"I'm going to do whatever is called," Kay said. "If it's called on me to throw the ball deep I'm going to do that. If I have to stay across the middle, short game, quick game, whatever it is I am going to go out there and do my job." 

In the end, the bomb is one of many ways to do his job. But having it in the arsenal can change the look of the conference chase. And for UC, that's a pulchritudinous thing. 

I want to hear from you! Shoot me any comments, questions or suggestions to or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. 

Moore Receptions?

Written by Scott Springer

Like every University of Cincinnati Bearcat, Chris Moore was affected by the injury to quarterback Munchie Legaux in the road game at Illinois.

We'll never know what might have been had Legaux's third quarter touchdown been allowed to stand.
  At 21-17, it clearly would've been a momentum changer. Instead, the game went from a four-point deficit to 18 points as the Illini were able to march down 99 yards to further their lead.

Then, there was the injury and we all know what happened from there.

For any of you that were in Memphis for the Conference USA basketball tournament when Kenyon Martin broke his leg (I was and remember it like it was yesterday) the Legaux injury had a similar effect.
  Though the Bearcats were the better team, they couldn't regroup quick enough to stop the opposition.

There's no bright side to what happened.
  However, there are some things to learn from and some points to consider.

Now at quarterback is Brendon Kay.

A year ago, Kay was the No. 2, which meant he took practice reps with the No. 2 receivers.
  One of those was Chris Moore.

The camaraderie and chemistry that came out of that, resulted in a 65-yard touchdown against Temple last year.
  In the opener against Purdue, Kay and Moore also went long for 51 yards, the longest reception of the season.

Chris Moore runs the best deep route on the team and has a connection to Kay that can't always be explained other than you don't mess with what works.

It's kind of like the pitcher that is lights out with a certain catcher and so-so with anyone else.
  Kay to Moore is special and you shouldn't be shocked to see more of that sometime soon.

As always, after the Coach Tuberville luncheon (featuring City BBQ and including a delightful peach cobber ordered by newly reinstated Ryan Koslen) I hung out in the hall to snare an interview.

The product of my lurking this week is Mr. Moore, the pride of Jefferson High in Tampa.
  As it turns out, one of his high school teammates is a Northwestern State Demon.

Here's No. 15:

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Tuberville at practice (440x373).jpg
The first two games of the Tommy Tuberville era were challenging and important. The win against Purdue and loss to Illinois gauged where the program sits under the supervision of its new coach. 

They also were a two-game trial evaluation of his roster. 

Tuberville purposely ran 60-plus players on and off the field in hopes of seeing how they respond when crowd fills the stadium. The new coach learned as much as he could about the talent on the team pushing them through spring practice and camp at Higher Ground. But you never truly learn about how a player will act until the real games start. 

A total of 12 players who have started games this year came into the season with one start or less. And not a single player on the team had started a game for Tuberville. Some will deliver, others won't. All will be judged. Starting this week, the results of those judgments will begin to be seen. 

Tuberville expects the starting lineup to start shifting. The pattern where only one change occurred in the starting lineup from Week 1 to Week 2 won't continue. 

"We are finding more out about what we can handle with this team and who can handle a bigger load and help us get better," Tuberville said. "That is what coaching is about. It really isn't about the x's and the o's. It is about getting the right guys on the field and getting the right guys on the field in the right situation."

These first four games serve as a preseason for the true test in conference play. That's what this season will inevitably be about. Can the Bearcats beat out Louisville and win The American? Only one way to make it happen and that's know the moment they arrive in South Florida who the best players are and how they need to be used. 

Tuberville wants to utilize a bigger running back like Tion Green to help alleviate struggles in goal line situations. The Bearcats were unable to push into the end zone on the play where Munchie Legaux was denied at the goal line. Ralph David Abernathy and Hosey Williams have their strengths, but size will never be among them. 

"That red zone has been a concern on both sides, but especially offensively with getting the ball in the end zone," Tuberville said. "It is something that we are making changes on." 

He's looking for more consistency and less panic out of the defensive backs. Too often as Illinois changed formation he saw defensive backs squirming instead of relaxing. It ended up being the reason for so many big plays by the Illini. 

"We gave up two or three big plays where they ran some trick things that we have not seen," Tuberville said. "Our secondary did not adjust very well. That was the area that I was a little concerned about." 

Saturday will offer the first college snaps for redshirt freshman Bennie Coney at quarterback. With Legaux lost for the season and Kay saying he's at "90 to 95 percent" in terms of health. Tuberville needs to know what he has in Coney, who took dramatic strides in the spring and caught everyone's attention. 

Much like the last two weeks, Coney can only partially be judged by what happens inside the trees in West Harrison, Ind., but mostly by what occurs under the lights in Clifton. 

"I have confidence in him. He will go in the game on Saturday no matter how we are doing," Tuberville said. "We have to get him into the game. We can't put him into a tough situation when the first time he goes in he looks around and hasn't taken a snap."

All this means moving around the depth chart and beginning the process of paring down the roster to those who can help as the season pushes forward. The trial run portion of the season will come to a close the next two weeks. The time has come to find out who is coming with him. 

"Each week we are finding out more and more about players that are starters, backups, or even third string guys," Tuberville said. "That's the focus, we have two non-conference games left, and we have to get better in both of those. We have to get much better, as we found out last week."

I want to hear from you! Shoot me any comments, questions and suggestions to or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.